How to pass the tests?

Discussion in 'Medical Students - MD' started by bigpurple, Sep 10, 2002.

  1. bigpurple

    bigpurple Junior Member

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    Hi SDNers,
    This is my first post. I have been reading the forum for quite a while and have used a lot of the advice. I started med-school this August and we just had our first test. It was one big one with Bio chem, Cell Bio, and Anatomy all in one.
    I am a little older, not straight out of college. I have been out of the study game for some time, but I busted my butt studying and still didn't do well at all.
    I am looking for study and test taking tactics. WE all have a huge amount of material to study. How do you digest and regurge and do well?
     
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  3. Airborne

    Airborne Senior Member

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    BigPurple:

    Congrats on starting med school -

    Yes, studying can be a bit overwhelming, especially if you're the type who likes to "know why" everything happens. I started out trying to read all the texts, in order to maximize my knowledge of the areas, and in the end, I found that while, yes, I had a better understanding of fundamentals than many of my classmates, my scores were not as high as I had hoped.

    I then switched to those review texts (ie Lippincotts for Biochem) and literally memorized them by reading them over and over and over again. If you keep up with your daily reading, it's really not that bad. A couple hours a day is more than enough. I always attended lectures, but know many people who did not, and did fine studying on their own - I guess it's really dependent upon what type of a person you are. Also, I read half in the morning before classes, and half after - I thought that I got twice as much done in the morning during 1st-2nd year, since I wasted heaps of time in groups (ie chatting and not focusing) - Don't get me wrong, groups are great, but you still have to have an idea of what's going on...

    Also - as a benefit of using the review books early, you are ahead of the ball game when it comes time for Step I (I know, it seems like its far away, but it comes fast) - You will have the seen all of it before, and need not be worried about reviewing from a new text.

    One more thing - I'm not sure how your school works, but at mine, they pass out the lecture notes to all of us at the beginning of each course (we don't have to worry about a note taking service :clap: ) - literally EVERYTHING on the tests were out of those notes, and you could do extremely well memorizing it alone (although this may hurt when Step I rolls around) -

    Your 1st two years are about memorizing facts and associations - Study hard, but remember that the fun stuff is coming soon!

    Good luck...

    Airborne
     
  4. fourthyear

    fourthyear Senior Member

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    I agree that the Review books are the way to go. I bought the texts, and refrenced them sometimes, but for most classes the review books get you the need-to-know stuff. PLUS, when you take the Boards, you will never have time to go through the texts again, and it's much better to reveiw for the boards in a book you are already familiar with. So I stuck with these review books and class notes 90% of the time.

    I, too, struggled in the 1st 2 years. You have to find what works for you. If you're falling asleep in lecture and can't pay attention, DON"T GO - your time is much better spent going to the library or elsewhere to read and study on your own. This is your education, make it work for you. For me, I found that I couldn't learn by just reading and highlighting - and learned that making my own notes, while very time consuming, really taught me the material. I made charts, flowcharts, drawings in various colors, anything to make it stick better than reading words on a page. Still, my friends who spent less time studying did much better on tests, but I knew in my heart that I was learning the material.

    You must also remember that EVERYONE in med school is pretty smart, and you can't all be #1 in the class. Plus, everyone has their strengths - many of us in my class who just passed 1st and 2nd year, excelled 3rd year (beyond the classmates who honored the first 2 years) when it came to patient interation and working on a team with others and having a strong work ethic. Being a great doctor is not all about getting Honors on tests.

    It took me 3 1/2 years of med school to get to the point of feeling like I finally caught up with my classmates in having all that doctor-knowlege. But now I do. I just learned things at such a faster rate once I started seeing patients and using the knowlege from the books in a practical setting. Have faith, if you want to succeed in med school, you will...it just takes more time for some of us to get to the point where it all clicks.
     
  5. fourthyear

    fourthyear Senior Member

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    More advice - never cram. You'll do much better if you study some every day. Even if on a busy day you can only do an hour, it's much better than adding an extra hour the night before the test. Older students are usually smarter about this. Some of the straight-from-college folks kept trying to pull all-nighters and finding that with the long and complicated tests, they couldn not stay alert enough to even read the test coherently. It's a marathon, not a sprint.
     
  6. CANES2006

    CANES2006 Miami chica

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    I think the key for me has been to skip some lectures here and there. In college, I was the type of person who NEVER skipped. But, now I attend lecture 50-75 % of the time. I go to the library instead and study. I find that my time is better invested in doing this. I hardly pay attention in class anyway (short attention span ;) ), so why bother going to class? Medical school is all about reading tons of info and teaching yourself. However, this technique can get tricky if you don't have will power. I know alot of people who don't go to class and stay in bed. By this they are not accomplishing anything. I advise for you to get up at the time you usually get up to go to class, drive to school, go to the library (or somewhere quiet) and study. This technique of getting up and getting ready makes me get down to business when I get to the medical complex. Just my two cents.
     
  7. gbv

    gbv Member

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    I'm just curious, how do you guys balance the desire to do well in your class with doing well on the boards//studying handouts & review texts for school exams and studying more in depth when the boards come around? Is there a way to balance the two goals, or does one many times have to choose for memorization and knowing facts for school exams or for reading texts and knowing the material more in depth for the boards (and perhaps not doing as well on school exams)? I know some of these things were touched on earlier, but I was wondering about how you guys try to achieve an overall equal focus on both tasks. I really hope my post makes sense and I apologize for not being able to contribute any information to the thread (premed currently applying), but I've been interested in this topic and seeing this thread piqued my interest even more. Thanks so much everyone, and good luck.

    gbv
     
  8. Airborne

    Airborne Senior Member

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    gbv:

    Step I is not more in depth than what you are tested on during your first 2 years of classes. In fact (IMHO), Step I is really just how well you can memorize facts and associations - and having been away from it for a few years, I can say I've forgotten the vast majority of it all...

    The desire to learn more beyond the word and pattern recognition is tough - I would have loved to be able to read Harrisons for the every disease we learned (well, maybe not loved, but liked anyway) - but it is pointless if you want to actually remember what the high-yield stuff is.

    So, review books are the way to go, and the result of the knowledge comes with time.

    Airborne
     
  9. gbv

    gbv Member

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    Airborne--

    Thanks a lot! I appreciate the response very much!

    Interesting thread this is.

    Best,

    gbv
     

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